1. Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”(Lk12:48-53). Taken from today’s Sunday gospel for 20th Sunday C.
2. If peace will be won at the price of truth, at the price of giving up one’s own essence, that peace is not worth having. If we want peace we must stand for and not against the truth even when such position brings division and persecution. The readings of this Sunday bring out this message in a clear manner. In the first reading Jeremiah stood for the truth and was persecuted for it. He preferred to stick to his mission and suffer than to be in peace with the people and compromise the truth of the message that he was meant to deliver to the people. King Zedekiah on his part preferred to be dancing on two feet instead standing at a clear position. He authorized the persecution of Jeremiah and at the same time ordered for his rescue. He wanted peace at all cost. He wanted to hurt no one.
3. Jesus condemns such lukewarmness. He said that he came to bring fire and was eager to see the fire burning. He said that he has come not for peace at all cost but rather for division. The mission of Jesus was one that was meant to bring strong reformation of the value system of his time. Accepting to be part of the reform attracts opposition from those who refuse the new order. Before leaving the world Jesus prayed for unity and peace among his followers. However, the peace he prayed for was one that should be at the service of truth. The peace he wanted is not the type that the world gives through wickedness and oppression of the weak with weapons of death and destruction.
4. Jesus foresaw a time when division will be preferred to peace, a time when a father will be against his son and the son against the father, a time when a mother will be against the daughter and the daughter against the mother. This division will be brought about by either the acceptance or rejection of the message of Christ. Those who accept to live according to the principles of the gospel of Christ will be rejected by those who would not want the new principles and there will be division affecting even the family ties. This prophecy has already been fulfilled in the past but it is still being fulfilled in our time.
5. Standing for the truth of the christian faith robed christians of peace in the early Church. Today it is robing christians of peace in our country. But we must be encouraged by thousands of witnesses before us who preferred suffering to giving up their faith. We can recall how the young Joseph refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife in Egypt. He was accused, imprisoned and persecuted but he ended up becoming a great ruler. We can recall the story of Suzana and the old judges who wanted her to become unfaithful. She refused and was falsely accused by the elders but God vindicated her (Dan13). We can recall how Jesus stood firm till death. We must look up to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb12:2).
6. Standing for the truth can rob one of his peace but those who stand firm till the end will receive a lasting peace. Being a Christian in a world that wants crowns without crosses is no longer easy. Everybody wants peace, prays for peace but how can you have peace when justice and truth are denied? As a Nigerian living in a country where peace has become elusive, you earnestly desire peace and security. You cannot realize your dream of lasting peace if you do not defend the values of your faith, if you are not ready to suffer for what you believe, if you do not stand for the truth in your family, church, work place and your community especially in the forthcoming elections. If you want peace fight for the truth because the peace that is founded on truth will never fail. ©Vita, 14/08/22.